Girls’ Lacrosse: Only a Club?

%0A%09%09%09%09%3C%21%5BCDATA%5B%5D%5D%3E%09%09

Peter Jones, Co-Editor-in-Chief

As the Latin School website boasts, the high school offers 44 athletic teams in 14 different sports, all of which “compete successfully at the conference, regional, sectional, and state level.” Yet excluded from its count are the 7 ‘club level’ teams, many of which practice and compete with the same level of endurance and grit as their IHSA-recognized counterparts. Some are clubs by choice, for reasons that include small rosters or logistical complications. But some teams are kept as clubs as a result of the school rule that requires up-and-coming sports to begin as a club before eventually being promoted to a fully-fledged sport. As the spring season is coming to a close, one club sport’s struggle constantly finds itself under the spotlight of Latin discussion: Girls’ Lacrosse.

The team, so far, has fought for a respectable record of 4-4, with impressive wins over big schools such as Jones, Lincoln Park, and Walter Payton. Coached by Wei Chenh, and led by captains Emily Breitenecker, Abby Maechling, and Charlotte Ryan, the team is putting their finishing touches on a successful second season.

But under the shadow of Boys’ Lacrosse, which, in all fairness, also had to wait out the club sports trial period, it has sometimes been tough for them to establish themselves as a true athletic program. Their response to this challenge? Hard work, and a lot of it.

“The Girls’ Lacrosse experience has changed so much this year,” explained captain Emily Breitenecker. “We’ve really raised our level of commitment. For example, last year, we played Jones and lost 6-1. A few days ago, we played them again, and won 15-4.”

The team’s heightened competitiveness is due, in part, to a change in their coaching staff. As Emily continued, “Because of our new coach, Coach Wei, who brings a much more intense coaching style, people have started to show up to every practice and really take it seriously.” Pamela Cameron, a sophomore and member of the team, elaborated, saying, “I remember [that] on the first day of practice, our coach came in and said ‘listen, we aren’t going to coddle you.’ I really appreciated that.”

It’s also worth pointing out that Girls’ Lacrosse’s 4-4 record is an improvement of 4 wins over last year’s. And while their label as a ‘club’ might be seen by some as demeaning, other team members do appreciate the opportunity it gives younger players to get a real foundation in the sport. As Olivia Reichl, a junior, offered, “If Girls’ Lacrosse became a varsity sport we could definitely take our competition, and players’ level of commitment, to a higher level. However, although the current process to become a sport is lengthy, it helps teams to develop the proper skills to compete at a varsity level. Considering most of our team consists of underclassmen or first-year players, it’s important to learn the basics and compete on an [easier] playing field at the beginning.”

Still, as Emily made clear, being given the status of a fully-fledged athletic program would “attract more girls, and it would only be fair.” She continued to say that “in the afternoons, when I see our team beginning practice right at 3:45, before any other teams, it’s clear that we deserve to be recognized.”

Ultimately, any group, let alone a high school athletic program, has to prove its worth for a while before people accept it for what it is. Every new sport at Latin has undergone the lengthy process, and as the Girls’ Lacrosse team continues to grow and improve, they’ll soon be ready for the varsity challenge. In the meantime, the girls look to finish the season strong with a win against Regina Dominican, and will act solely as spectators when the frenzy of IHSA postseason tournament play begins.